China could not now be described in any way as a liberal democracy. At present, no more than 20 percent of its economy has been marketized, and most importantly it continues to be ruled by a self-appointed Communist party which has given no hint of wanting to devolve power. Deng has made none of Gorbachev's promises regarding democratization of the political system and there is no Chinese equivalent of glasnost. The Chinese leadership has in fact been much more circumspect in criticizing Mao and Maoism than Gorbachev with respect to Brezhnev and Stalin, and the regime continues to pay lip service to Marxism-Leninism as its ideological underpinning. But anyone familiar with the outlook and behavior of the new technocratic elite now governing China knows that Marxism and ideological principle have become virtually irrelevant as guides to policy, and that bourgeois consumerism has a real meaning in that country for the first time since the revolution. The various slowdowns in the pace of reform, the campaigns against "spiritual pollution" and crackdowns on political dissent are more properly seen as tactical adjustments made in the process of managing what is an extraordinarily difficult political transition. By ducking the question of political reform while putting the economy on a new footing, Deng has managed to avoid the breakdown of authority that has accompanied Gorbachev's . Yet the pull of the liberal idea continues to be very strong as economic power devolves and the economy becomes more open to the outside world. There are currently over 20,000 Chinese students studying in the U.S. and other Western countries, almost all of them the children of the Chinese elite. It is hard to believe that when they return home to run the country they will be content for China to be the only country in Asia unaffected by the larger democratizing trend. The student demonstrations in Beijing that broke out first in December 1986 and recurred recently on the occasion of Hu Yao-bang's death were only the beginning of what will inevitably be mounting pressure for change in the political system as well.
Abelard in Four Dimensions: A Twelfth-Century Philosopher in His Context and Ours by John Marenbon, one of the leading scholars of medieval philosophy and a specialist on Abelard's thought, originated from a set of lectures in the distinguished Conway Lectures in Medieval Studies series and provides new interpretations of central areas of Peter Abelard's philosophy and its influence. The four dimensions of Abelard to which the title refers are that of the past (Abelard's predecessors), present (his works in context), future (the influence of his thinking up to the seventeenth century), and the present-day philosophical culture in which Abelard's works are still discussed and his arguments debated. For readers new to Abelard, this book provides an introduction to his life and works along with discussion of his central ideas in semantics, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. For specialists, the book contains new arguments about the authenticity and chronology of his logical work, fresh evidence about Abelard’s relations with Anselm and Hugh of St. Victor, a new understanding of how he combines the necessity of divine action with human freedom, and reinterpretations of important passages in which he discusses semantics and metaphysics. For all historians of philosophy, it sets out and illustrates a new methodological approach, which can be used for any thinker in any period and will help to overcome the divisions between "historians" based in philosophy departments and scholars with historical or philological training.
Privatdozent Heidegger, in his second year of lecturing, examines how phenomenology, as a strict science, should approach the factical experience of life. Phenomenology should investigate factical life, in order to uncover the ground, "original science", of factical life. Factical life provides phenomenology with access, so that phenomenology can investigate that ground. By investigating through factical life, phenomenology can investigate the experience of life without objectifying it, as a science might. For examples of life experiences, Heidegger refers to Stephan George's poem "The Tapestry of Life", to , and to everday situations. He says that philosophers need to be evaluated with phenomelogy, and interpreted with respect to the ground of factical life. The works of Kant, Hegel, "those from Marburg", Bergson, William James, must be reckoned with.
Indeed, not only are and "" satisfied with their own superiority over ordinary science, as was Hegel, but they are positively hostile, with an often activist political agenda, to every characteristic of science that attends upon truth, evidence, and even logic.
Although Hegel saw himself as standing for reason and logic, his actual practice, of free association and conceptual confusion masquerading as "dialectic" (truly fine examples of what had called "dialectical illusion"), which saw logical contradictions, not as evidence of falsehood, but as steps in the production of higher and more comprehensive contradictions, i.e.
Of course, a positive growth rate might be taken as evidencethat a population is below its optimum. However, by anyreasonable standards, the most rapidly growing populations onearth today are (in general) the most miserable. This association(which need not be invariable) casts doubt on the optimisticassumption that the positive growth rate of a population isevidence that it has yet to reach its optimum.
To understand the relative importance of contingency versus determinism in Hegel'sphilosophy, it is most important to note the distinction he makes between world historyand particular history. "What world history has to record," he writes in his , "are the actions of the Spirit of peoples. Theindividual configurations assumed by Spirit in external reality could be left to limitedhistories." Carefully analyzed in the context of Hegel's work, it becomes clear thatHegel views long-term history as the meaningful area for study of Spirit's activity,whereas "limited histories" merely reflect the "external reality" thatSpirit assumes.
Important as these changes in China have been, however, it is developments in the Soviet Union - the original "homeland of the world proletariat" - that have put the final nail in the coffin of the Marxist-Leninist alternative to liberal democracy. It should be clear that in terms of formal institutions, not much has changed in the four years since Gorbachev has come to power: free markets and the cooperative movement represent only a small part of the Soviet economy, which remains centrally planned; the political system is still dominated by the Communist party, which has only begun to democratize internally and to share power with other groups; the regime continues to assert that it is seeking only to modernize socialism and that its ideological basis remains Marxism-Leninism; and, finally, Gorbachev faces a potentially powerful conservative opposition that could undo many of the changes that have taken place to date. Moreover, it is hard to be too sanguine about the chances for success of Gorbachev's proposed reforms, either in the sphere of economics or politics. But my purpose here is not to analyze events in the short-term, or to make predictions for policy purposes, but to look at underlying trends in the sphere of ideology and consciousness. And in that respect, it is clear that an astounding transformation has occurred.
'That this definition', says Hegel characteristically, 'is analytic can easily be seen from the fact that a straight line reduces to simplicity of direction, and simplicity, considered with regard to quantity, determines it as least in quantity, i.e.
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In the political sphere, the proposed changes to the Soviet constitution, legal system, and party rules amount to much less than the establishment of a liberal state. Gorbachev has spoken of democratization primarily in the sphere of internal party affairs, and has shown little intention of ending the Communist party's monopoly of power; indeed, the political reform seeks to legitimize and therefore strengthen the CPSU'S rule. Nonetheless, the general principles underlying many of the reforms - that the "people" should be truly responsible for their own affairs, that higher political bodies should be answerable to lower ones, and not vice versa, that the rule of law should prevail over arbitrary police actions, with separation of powers and an independent judiciary, that there should be legal protection for property rights, the need for open discussion of public issues and the right of public dissent, the empowering of the Soviets as a forum in which the whole Soviet people can participate, and of a political culture that is more tolerant and pluralistic - come from a source fundamentally alien to the USSR's Marxist-Leninist tradition, even if they are incompletely articulated and poorly implemented in practice.